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Submitted: 03-21-2007 by Drewski
First my personal info: 5'8" tall, 205 pounds, shoe size 9.
Formerly I paddled a Dagger Blackwater 11.5 but had trouble keeping up with the group I paddle with who mostly have kayaks in the 15'-17' range. So last year at a demo event, I tried the Riot Evasion among other kayaks. At first I wasn't sure about it because it has a "channelled hull" that looks much different from anything I have seen. It feels higher up and somewhat tippy at first when you sit in it, and I admit I almost dismissed it out of hand because it felt so "different". But once you get it moving, it seems to stabilize and be more predictable. The cockpit is on the small side and it fits me snug, but I like that because it gives me more control over the boat than I had in the Blackwater with that big cockpit. It was a welcome change.
Hatches: I had some slight leakage into the boat from the bungee and deck line attachment points, but I just fixed that with a little glop of silicone on each one and now it's fine. The storage capacity is less than you might think because the hull shape decreases the storage space. But I don't do much camping from my kayak so that has not been an issue for me. For my purposes, it is fine. And I very much like the neoprene hatch covers with hard plastic tops, and bungees that criss-cross over the top to prevent them popping off. Great design and easy to use.
Quality in general: Riot plastic seems to be more solid and less prone to changing shape in the heat than some of the cheaper boats. I guess you get what you pay for. (My boat retailed for $1,449 - not cheap.) It's also a smooth plastic finish (not that rumply finish some boats have) and that's good because I like to put decals on my boats and they won't stick to that rumply surface.
The Evasion has one of those metal things (sorry, don't know what its called) in front of the cockpit that you can use to loop a security cable through. Nice touch for when your traveling.
It has thigh braces, and the foot pegs are easy to adjust. Comfortable seat.
This kayak has a low profile and doesn't react much to wind. I have a rudder on mine but have never used it in my 20 or so outings. The channelled hull makes this kayak track like an arrow, and makes edged turns very effective. However, it's a bear to turn - not too maneuverable - but then I paddle on flat lakes so what do I care? I have to give Riot credit for being innovative in a market where everybody else seems to be doing the same thing. So keep an open mind when you test paddles this boat - it's not "business as usual" and it won't be what you're expecting, but once you get acclimated to it, you begin to understand what Riot intended, and it's really a good design and a quality boat in my opinion.
One caution: This boat is probably intended for women and/or smaller paddlers. While I am not small, I'm not very tall and my feet are not very big. With my feet on the footpegs, I notice I have about 1" of space for movement upwards - not much, but then I don't "angle" my feet a lot. If your heels were closer together, you might have a bit more upward room. Best to test paddle before buying to make sure it fits you, especially when spending this much money.
I'm rating this a 9 because I think overall the quality and design are quite impressive, and the thing that was lacking was easily fixed (leaking attachment points). As someone else said on a review, great boat if you are lucky enough to fit in it. And I am.
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